B-130094, MAR. 8, 1957

B-130094: Mar 8, 1957

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INCORPORATED: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 14. WE HAVE BEEN ADVISED BY THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION IN A LETTER OF FEBRUARY 26. THAT THE BASIS FOR THE DECISION TO REJECT ALL BIDS AND READVERTISE THE PROCUREMENT WAS AS FOLLOWS: "THE BIDS IN QUESTION WERE OPENED ON NOVEMBER 21. IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT COPIES OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS WERE NOT MAILED TO ANY OF THE FIRMS ON OUR MAILING LIST FOR "BED AND BOX SPRINGS.'. "SELECTION OF PROSPECTIVE BIDDERS FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAILING THE INVITATION WAS. PROSPECTIVE BIDDERS ON OUR ESTABLISHED MAILING LIST FOR BED SPRINGS WERE NOT INVITED TO BID. "EVEN THOUGH PUBLIC NOTICE WAS GIVEN THROUGH OTHER MEDIA.

B-130094, MAR. 8, 1957

TO HARRIS-HUB, INCORPORATED:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 14, 1956, WITH ENCLOSURE, PROTESTING AGAINST THE REJECTION OF ALL BIDS UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS--- HOUSEHOLD AND QUARTERS FURNITURE CLASS 26 PART I--- FOR THE PERIOD MARCH 16, 1957 THROUGH MARCH 15, 1958, ISSUED BY THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION.

WE HAVE BEEN ADVISED BY THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION IN A LETTER OF FEBRUARY 26, 1957, THAT THE BASIS FOR THE DECISION TO REJECT ALL BIDS AND READVERTISE THE PROCUREMENT WAS AS FOLLOWS:

"THE BIDS IN QUESTION WERE OPENED ON NOVEMBER 21, 1956. SUBSEQUENTLY, IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT COPIES OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS WERE NOT MAILED TO ANY OF THE FIRMS ON OUR MAILING LIST FOR "BED AND BOX SPRINGS.' GROUP 8 OF THE INVITATION REQUESTED BIDS ON FOUR ITEMS OF COIL TYPE BED SPRINGS.

"SELECTION OF PROSPECTIVE BIDDERS FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAILING THE INVITATION WAS, AS USUAL, THROUGH THE USE OF ELECTRICAL SELECTION ADDRESSING MACHINES. HOWEVER, DUE TO MALFUNCTION OF THIS MACHINE, PROSPECTIVE BIDDERS ON OUR ESTABLISHED MAILING LIST FOR BED SPRINGS WERE NOT INVITED TO BID.

"THIS OMISSION HAD THE EFFECT OF WITHHOLDING THE USUAL NOTIFICATION TO THE FIRMS THAT, AS IN THE PAST, HAD RELIED ON RECEIVING OUR INVITATIONS FOR BIDS AS A RESULT OF BIDDERS' MAILING LIST APPLICATIONS FILED BY THEM.

"EVEN THOUGH PUBLIC NOTICE WAS GIVEN THROUGH OTHER MEDIA, SUCH AS THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE DAILY SYNOPSIS, POSTING OF COPIES OF THE INVITATION IN OUR REGIONAL BUSINESS SERVICE CENTERS, AND POSSIBLY THROUGH COMMERCIAL PUBLICATIONS SPECIALIZING IN GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT INFORMATION, OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO NOTIFY FIRMS ON OUR MAILING LIST BY DIRECT MAIL WAS NOT CARRIED OUT. IN THIS CONNECTION CONSIDERATION WAS GIVEN TO SEC. 303 (A) OF THE FEDERAL PROPERTY AND ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES ACT OF 1949 WHICH PROVIDES THAT WHEN ADVERTISING IS REQUIRED THE "INVITATION FOR BIDS SHALL PERMIT SUCH FULL AND FREE COMPETITION AS IS CONSISTENT WITH THE PROCUREMENT OF TYPES OF PROPERTY AND SERVICES NECESSARY TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE AGENCY CONCERNED.'

"AN AWARD ON THE BASIS OF THE INADEQUATE COMPETITION ACTUALLY OBTAINED WOULD HAVE REPRESENTED A FAILURE IN THE CARRYING OUT OF THIS AGENCY'S RESPONSIBILITIES UNDER THE PORTION OF THE LAW QUOTED ABOVE. THE PREVIOUS YEAR THERE WERE SEVEN BIDS RECEIVED AND THE SAME NUMBER OF BIDS THE YEAR BEFORE THAT. THREE OF THE FIRMS BIDDING REGULARLY ON OUR REQUIREMENTS DID NOT SUBMIT BIDS THIS YEAR. ACCORDINGLY, IN VIEW OF THE LACK OF ACTUAL NOTICE TO FIRMS WHICH NORMALLY WOULD BID ON OUR REQUIREMENTS, THERE WAS NO ALTERNATIVE EXCEPT TO READVERTISE.

"NEW INVITATIONS FOR BIDS WERE ISSUED ON JANUARY 16, 1957, AND THE BIDS WERE OPENED ON JANUARY 31, HOWEVER NO AWARDS HAVE BEEN MADE.'

AS WE STATED TO YOU IN OUR LETTER OF JANUARY 30, 1957, THE REJECTION OF ALL BIDS SUBMITTED PURSUANT TO INVITATION IS LARGELY A MATTER OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION. SEE, IN THIS CONNECTION, SECTION 303 (B) OF THE FEDERAL PROPERTY AND ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES ACT OF 1949, 63 STAT. 395, 41 U.S.C. 253, PROVIDING, IN PERTINENT PART, THAT "ALL BIDS MAY BE REJECTED WHEN THE AGENCY HEAD DETERMINES THAT IT IS IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST TO DO SO.' FURTHER, AS WE STATED, ONE OF THE PRIME PURPOSES OF THE STATUTES REQUIRING THE LETTING OF PUBLIC CONTRACTS TO THE LOWEST RESPONSIBLE BIDDER AFTER ADVERTISING IS TO SECURE FOR THE GOVERNMENT THE BENEFITS FLOWING FROM FREE, UNRESTRICTED COMPETITION. UNITED STATES V. BROOKRIDGE FARM, 111 F.2D 461, AFFIRMING 27 F.SUPP. 909. AS A GENERAL RULE, SUCH COMPETITION CAN ONLY BE OBTAINED BY ADVERTISING IN SUCH MANNER AS TO ASSURE THAT ALL QUALIFIED BIDDERS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN SUBMITTING A BID MAY BE ADVISED OF THE CONTEMPLATED PROCUREMENT. 25 COMP. GEN. 859; 14 COMP. GEN. 667.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, WE PERCEIVE NO BASIS UPON WHICH WE MAY LEGALLY OBJECT TO THE DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATOR TO REJECT ALL BIDS UNDER THE INVITATION AND TO READVERTISE.